A few months ago I rushed home from the airport after a long trip so that I could make it into Portland to have beers with a colleague of mine. He was in town on a supplier incentive trip—he and a few other people from his distributorship had been invited to Oregon by one of their wineries and he asked if I wanted to get together with him on his “free day.”
I met him at Hair of the Dog Brewery; it was one of those funny Portland days where the sun is shining, the sky is that classic Oregon bluish-white and it’s dappled with blotchy gray clouds. The temperature is hovering between 55-60 degrees and the wind is softly blowing every few moments, just enough to feel a little chill, but also to remind you that Summer is coming. It’s the kind of weather that I like to call “Goldilocks weather”—if you stand still or sit, you need a sweater, but if you move around, you start to sweat. You’re constantly putting your sunglasses on and then taking them off because the clouds keep moving and the sun flickers in and out. No matter what you do, it’s hard to feel “just right.”
So I came and sat down at one of the picnic benches outside with him and as the clouds passed over the sun, I removed my shades. He looked into my eyes, now uncovered, and told me, “You look tired, kid. How long are you going to keep doing this to yourself?” He surveyed me with genuine concern and I told him, “It’s true. I AM tired. But I also have too much to do to think about that right now. And besides, I love my job and my company.”
We talked for a while and he kept pressing me about what I was going to do with my life and what I wanted for myself in the future. I was adamant that everything was copacetic, and that at the moment I had no complaints. But something was nagging me and I knew that maybe I wasn’t being totally honest with myself.
Then, this fall, over the span of just 60 days, I traveled to Seattle, San Francisco, New Orleans, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Naples, Miami, Boston, Burlington, Portland (Maine), New Haven, New York, Chapel Hill, Raleigh-Durham, Charleston, Detroit, Phoenix, DC and Alexandria, and then I was really tired.
As my travels wrapped up, I sat down with my boss and we had a long discussion about me and my job; the ultimate conclusion was that it’s time for me to take a break. I have learned a tremendous amount in the last few years I’ve worked for him; I know so much more about the business of wine—how it’s made, how it’s sold, how to make a company run well, and how to keep your employees happy. I have worked with the most compassionate, intelligent and interesting people I could ask for, and I have had the luxury working under someone who is truly the most classy guy in the business (not to mention one of the best and most knowledgeable winemakers in the Northwest—where else can you learn about geology and classical philosophy in the same place?). I am immensely grateful for the experience I’ve had here, and I will miss working with these folks very much. I can’t thank him enough for giving me the opportunity to work at such a fantastic place and I know we’ll be friends for many years to come. It’s only with gratitude and care that I take my leave.
So what do I do now? Well, for starters, I am going to take a little time for myself and re-charge. And then, who knows? I love to travel and I have a ton of great friends and colleagues around the country, but I don’t want to be on a plane every week. I definitely want to stay in the wine business, but beyond that, I’m wide open.
I still have a lot of thoughts and opinions about being a representative for an independent, family-owned winery, so I’ll continue to keep this blog updated. But in case I don’t see you for a little while (since I’ll be sleeping in my own bed instead of a hotel on the road), stay in touch and call me when you’re in Portland!